Preview: Dynamo aiming to cool off red-hot Chicago

HOUSTON DYNAMO vs CHICAGO FIRE
BBVA COMPASS STADIUM, Houston, Texas
July 3, 2012 (WEEK 18, MLS Game #156)
7:30 p.m. CT (FS-Hou+/MultiMedios; NBC5.2)

A crucial match in the Eastern Conference kicks off the midweek holiday program when the Houston Dynamo play host to the Chicago Fire on Tuesday evening at BBVA Compass Stadium. The teams are separated by four points in the division, currently holding the last two playoff positions. The Dynamo are still unbeaten in their new home after a 2-1 win against Philadelphia Union last weekend, while the Fire have won three in a row after coming away from Sporting Kansas City with a 1-0 triumph last Friday.

REFEREE: Allen Chapman. SAR (bench): Chris Strickland; JAR (opposite): James Conlee; 4th: Leszek Stalmach
MLS Career: 4 games; FC/gm: 23.3; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 0; pens: 1

DOWNLOAD FULL GAME GUIDE HERE (PDF)

INJURY REPORT:

  • HOUSTON DYNAMO -- OUT: DF Alex Dixon (concussion); MF Calen Carr (L hamstring strain); DOUBTFUL: MF Je-Vaughn Watson (L adductor strain); QUESTIONABLE: DF Oscar Recio (concussion)
  • CHICAGO FIRE – OUT: DF Cory Gibbs (R knee meniscus repair); MF Steven Kinney (R Achilles tendinitis); DOUBTFUL: GK Paolo Tornaghi (R ankle sprain); FW Federico Puppo (R ankle sprain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

SUSPENDED: none

WARNINGS:

  • SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: none
  • SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: HOU: Calen Carr … CHI: Dan Gargan, Sebastian Grazzini, Pavel Pardo, Marco Pappa, Gonzalo Segares

HEAD-TO-HEAD

ALL-TIME (13 meetings): Dynamo 6 wins, 21 goals … Fire 3 wins, 16 goals … Ties 3

AT HOUSTON (6 meetings): Dynamo 3 wins, 10 goals …Fire 2 wins, 9 goals … Ties 1

FUTURE MATCH: 9/2: Chicago Fire vs. Houston Dynamo, 6 p.m. CT (Galavision)
•    The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Houston’s Will Bruin and Chicago’s Logan Pause traded goals three minutes midway through the first half as the teams ended in a 1-1 draw on April 15.
•    The teams have now played to 1-1 draws in each of their last three meetings.
•    Coaches' records: Frank Klopas vs. HOU: P2 W0 L0 D2 … Dominic Kinnear vs. CHI: P18 W7 L5 D6

LAST MEETING (MLS)
4/15: CHI 1, HOU 1 (Pause 27 – Bruin 24)
•    The match was stopped for the first time in the 13th minute by referee Geoff Gamble because of a bolt of lightning and the peal of thunder. The game was halted for 70 minutes before it resumed.
•    In the 24th minute, the Dynamo broke through. Brian Ching peeled off the backline and sprung Will Bruin on a through ball that split the Fire center backs, and the second-year striker coolly beat Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson inside the right-hand post.
•    Just three minutes later, the Fire found an equalizer. After Patrick Nyarko was taken down at the top of the box, a Pavel Pardo direct kick deflected off of the back of Logan Pause, curled over goalkeeper Tally Hall, hit the underside of the crossbar and down over the line.
•    After 20 minutes in the second half, which included no shots on target, another bolt of lightning was sighted and Gamble pulled the players off the field for a final time. Under MLS rules, a match abandoned after the second half has kicked off is considered official.
•    CHICAGO FIRE (4-3-1-2): Sean Johnson - Dan Gargan, Arne Friedrich, Jalil Anibaba, Gonzalo Segares - Logan Pause, Pavel Pardo, Marco Pappa - Sebastian Grazzini - Patrick Nyarko, Dominic Oduro.
•    HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-4-2): Tally Hall - Andre Hainault, Geoff Cameron, Bobby Boswell, Jermaine Taylor - Je-Vaughn Watson, Nathan Sturgis, Luiz Camargo (Calen Carr 63), Corey Ashe - Will Bruin, Brian Ching.

HOUSTON DYNAMO
The Houston Dynamo remained unbeaten at the BBVA Compass Stadium home, getting a late winner for a 2-1 win Saturday against Philadelphia Union. The Dynamo are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 23 points from 16 games.

HIGHLIGHTS: HOU 2, PHI 1

LAST MATCH
•    The Dynamo grabbed the lead in the 20th minute. Boniek Garcia’s cross from the right found Macoumba Kandji on the edge of the box. The forward slid the ball into the path of the onrushing Brad Davis, who superbly curled the ball into the far corner.
•    Union pulled back to even terms just 36 seconds into the second half. Brian Carroll found Keon Daniel at the top of the box, and the Philly midfielder turned and lash a bouncing drive beyond Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall from 20 yards.
•    But the home side claimed the winner in the 83rd minute after Gabriel Farfan’s sent the Dynamo substitute Brian Ching tumbling to the turf. Referee Fotis Bazakos awarded a penalty and Ching converted the ensuing spot kick himself.
•    Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear made four changes to the team that went down to a 4-2 defeat by the Montréal Impact at Stade Saputo. Boniek Garcia made his MLS debut, coming into the team with Jermaine Taylor, Luiz Camargo and Macoumba Kandji, for Colin Clark, Adam Moffat, Je-Vaughn Watson and Brian Ching.
•    HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-4-2): Tally Hall - Andre Hainault, Jermaine Taylor, Bobby Boswell, Corey Ashe - Boniek Garcia, Geoff Cameron, Luiz Camargo (Warren Creavalle 79), Brad Davis - Will Bruin (Brian Ching 74), Macoumba Kandji (Brian Ownby 71).

TEAM NEWS
•    The Dynamo remained undefeated in league play at BBVA Compass Stadium, now with four wins and two draws in their first six MLS games in their new stadium.
•    “It was a very important three points. We came out great in the first half. I thought we came out flat-footed in the second half, but then we took it to them a little bit,” said Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear. “If you are a Dynamo fan, you are happy tonight that the team goes home a winner.”
•    After coming on as a substitute, Brian Ching was given the opportunity to take the penalty kick – he converted, his first goal at BBVA Compass Stadium. It was his first goal since April 21.
•    “I wanted it for a couple of reasons; it puts us in the lead, and I understand the reason Brian would want to step up and take it. I think there’s a lot of emotion behind that goal,” said Kinnear. “He’s come close a couple of times in the stadium before. He deserves it, but then again it’s a great story and you really wanted him to make it.”
•    Said Ching: “[Brad Davis] just came over and said, ‘Here, you take it.’ I said, ‘No, you’re the guy that usually takes it, it’s not a big deal, just take the penalty.’ And he said, ‘No, it’ll be good, hopefully it will help you kind of break the dam a little bit.’ ”
•    Boniek Garcia made his MLS debut, starting wide on the right and playing the entire match. It took him just 20 minutes to record his first MLS assist.
•    “I’m very appreciative of the opportunity,” García said. “After I arrived, I trained and talked with Dom [Kinnear, the head coach] and he asked me if I was OK to play and I said yes. … Right now I do feel tired, after two training sessions and one game, I’m definitely feeling the effects of it.”
•    Said Kinnear: “I thought [Boniek] had a good game. I thought he was energetic, smart on the ball he’s confident. I think for a guy to come in and to play like he did just shows you that he’s a confident player and he’s a good player. I think that it was a good debut for him and I hope he continues to play that way for us.”
•    After figuring in central defense for the entirety of the campaign thus far, Geoff Cameron was returned to a central midfield role, playing with Luiz Camargo. Jermaine Taylor moved from right back to central defense.
•    After going more than a month without a goal, Brad Davis has now scored in back-to-back games with the opening goal vs. Philadelphia.
•    “The guys wanted to win this game, they aren’t happy with a tie and I think you saw that even at the end of the game they’re pushing forward trying to get more goals,” said Kinnear. “I thought we did some good things and there was some good individual play. There were some decent opportunities, and at the end there was some good defending, too.”

CHICAGO FIRE
The Chicago Fire extended their winning streak to three games, coming away from Livestrong Sporting Park with a 1-0 win against Sporting Kansas City on Friday evening. The Fire are in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 27 points from 16 games.

HIGHLIGHTS: SKC 0, CHI 1

LAST MATCH
•    The game's lone goal came after 58 minutes. On a swift counterattack, the Fire's Marco Pappa breaking down the middle, fed Chris Rolfe on the left, then slotted the return ball low between goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen and Matt Besler and into the back of the net from the heart of the area.
•    Fire head coach Frank Klopas made two changes to the team that recorded a 2-1 win against the Columbus Crew at Toyota Park. Arne Friedrich came into the back four for the suspended Gonzalo Segares and Chris Rolfe started in midfield for Sebastian Grazzini.
•    CHICAGO FIRE (4-2-3-1): Sean Johnson - Jalil Anibaba, Arne Friedrich (Hunter Jumper 79), Austin Berry, Dan Gargan - Logan Pause, Pavel Pardo - Patrick Nyarko (Rafael Robayo 82), Chris Rolfe, Marco Pappa (Alex 64) - Dominic Oduro.

TEAM NEWS
•    After going the first 14 games of the season without putting together back-to-back wins, the Fire have now won three in a row.
•    Anytime you can win back-to-back games in this league, it’s a good feat. It is such a competitive league so that doesn’t happen too often for most teams,” said Chris Rolfe. “For us to do that now to start the summer when we really have to grind through the middle of the season, that’s really big for us.”
•    It was the third shutout of the season for the Fire, but their first since May 9, a span of eight games.
•    “We didn’t give up any goals. There were a few times they got in dangerous spots and we have to get back and work on some things but on the night we did what’s necessary to get three points and the shutout is a plus as well,” said goalkeeper Sean Johnson. “First and foremost three points which we needed against a team in our conference and the shutout for the team. I think we’ve been due for a long time and the guys deserve it.”

GOAL: Pappa puts the Fire ahead

•    Marco Pappa scored for the second time in as many games, his fifth goal of the season, now tied for the Fire club lead with Dominic Oduro.
•    “Marco is a great player and you said it, he makes a lot of things look easy that other guys can’t even do,” said Rolfe. “Every decision that he made on that counter attack was the right one and like I said it looked easy but that play is not easy to do.”
•    Making his first start since returning to the Fire and Major League Soccer, Rolfe assisted on Pappa’s goal, his first on his return.
•    “He’s been coming on every game and had an impact in every game. Even with the heat I felt that he was very strong. I was a little concerned towards the end because he had a knock back in his ankle so we have to assess that,” said Klopas. “He’s a key player for us, it’s just technically you can see that he’s a very good player. He has the ability now to beat players off the dribble and create opportunities for himself and others anytime he gets around the goal. He’s just a great finisher, he has great feet. He’s a very good addition for us so hopefully there are no more setbacks.””
•    Former German Arne Friedrich made his return to the Fire starting lineup, his first appearance in the first XI since May 12 – when he was injured the first time Chicago and Sporting KC played.
•    “Arne Friedrich coming back obviously helped a lot. I thought that some of his defending was fantastic. He got a little bit tired in the end but I wanted to go into the game with some experienced players,” said Klopas.
•    With Gonzalo Segares suspended, Jalil Anibaba moved from central defense to right back, and Dan Gargan shifted sides after starting 13 games at right back.
•    “We needed Dan’s experience even though he normally doesn’t play on that side. But his ability now and experience to help on the defensive side helped. They went against some great forwards tonight so I was just relying a lot more on his experience,” said Klopas.
•    Said Johnson: “I think at any point in time we have to be able to adjust where guys can step in and do a job. Like you saw tonight, Hunter (Jumper) came on and we slid (Daniel) Gargan out to the right. At any point in time we have guys that can play anywhere on the field. That says a lot for our team especially our will and determination to win games.”